Firefighters fined for breaches of standards after three firefighters were injured

BEARDSTOWN, Ill. (WCIA) – The Beardstown Fire Department has been issued eight citations and two fines by the Illinois Department of Labor’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health following violations standards during a fire that injured three firefighters last year.

On May 16, 2021, firefighters responded to a building on 4th and Bay streets to report a fire. During the blaze, Chief Brian Becker and two other firefighters became lost on the building’s second floor, declared a mayday and were forced to jump out of the building through a second-story window from a height of approximately 21 feet. All three were seriously injured and treated in hospital. An occupant of this building was also injured in the fire.

The IL OSHA investigation determined that key factors contributing to firefighter injuries included a lack of initial incident command, search and rescue operations occurring over an active fire in a building without a sprinkler system and firefighters operating in zero visibility without a hose or slogan.

The report also identified 15 indirect causes of the incident and provided 19 recommendations to prevent a similar incident in the future. IL-OSHA issued eight citations to the Beardstown Fire Department, two of which were repeat violations resulting in monetary penalties.

“The incident report was written for grassroots firefighters, firefighters, chiefs and elected officials,” said Erik Kambarian, acting division director of IL OSHA. “This is a case study that highlights the importance of establishing strong, upfront and assertive incident command, and matching tactics and strategies to available capabilities. Fire departments should look at the circumstances that this department has faced and apply them to their operational image.

The full IL OSHA report can be viewed on line.

Lillian L. Pena